March/April – refit after survey

We finally launched Spring Fever at the end of April, though not without hiccups, because the crane needed to put the mast up broke down.

On the way in, without a mast

We launched the boat mastless anyway, and used the time to collect a new cooker – the gas survey for our insurers had brought the expensive news that the cooker was condemned for corrosion and age.

Luckily there was one available at the marina near Newport, Island Harbour, so we chugged up there to collect it, and the gas engineer came to fit it the next day.

The boatyard where we wintered at Kingston managed to hire in a crane. so we went back there. The mast was put up three days late by a very efficient and patient team from Spencers of Cowes, which had made our new standing rigging. Spencers replaced the rigging last time we did it as well, in 2009.

Apart from that, we had the usual long list of bits and pieces to do to commission the boat, but because of the delays we had no time for a trial sail.

Just finished another updating project, this time of David Fairhall’s Pass Your Day Skipper, with cartoons by the late Mike Peyton. It will be published in the New Year. My update of Pass Your Yachtmaster was published last year.

March: down to the sea again

The virus lockdown rules allow me to drive to the boat from this week onwards, so a day is at last in the diary for moving Spring Fever from her winter berth in Chichester to her permanent mooring in Cowes.

Now we’re hopeful that we might actually make that cruise to the east coast we cancelled twice last year, so I’ve been updating my Thames Estuary charts and pilot book and reminding myself of the different route options around and across the multiple sandbanks between North Foreland and Harwich.

Continue reading “March: down to the sea again”

July – launch date at last

So far the only boating I’ve done the entire year is rowing my little dinghy to harvest some luscious but otherwise inaccessible early blackberries hanging over the water.

This lovely little lapstrake boat, a Roger Oughtred design called a feather pram, is too fragile to want to knock it about on beaches as a yacht tender, so I keep it safe on our pond.

Continue reading “July – launch date at last”

June – tide turning

It looks as if we’ll be free to go cruising on Spring Fever from 4 July, the day the renewed easing of Covid-19 controls starts. While we will not be ready for early July, at least we can now plan a sail, possibly to the Essex and Suffolk rivers.

Pin Mill, near Woolverstone, Suffolk

Following the end of the ban on overnight stays on boats, Cowes, where we are at the moment, has reopened to visiting boats that book a berth in advance.

Continue reading “June – tide turning”

May – a narrow escape in Venice

Sad news from Venice, where the historic Trabaccolo trading vessel I went to write about for Classic Boat a few years ago has been swamped and damaged by a bad leak. The vessel was saved by the pumps of firefighters who came alongside Il Nuovo Trionfo where she was berthed near the Salute, at the entrance to the Grand Canal. Apparently the boat’s own pumps had failed, though the reasons for the leak in the first place are not clear. The water flooded the engine, and videos show it swilling around at the level of the saloon table top, submerging much equipment.Firefighters alongside with pumps, St Marks Square in the distance

Il Nuovo Trionfo has now been pumped out and towed to a yard for repairs ashore, where she is now. Continue reading “May – a narrow escape in Venice”

Cowes – love it or loathe it?

The man manoeuvring in the queue for the fuel pontoon at Falmouth took one look at our port of registration on the transom, and let loose a flood of abuse about people like us from Cowes. He was accusing us of queue jumping – we weren’t. Elsewhere, another sailor looked at the town name and added “arrogant bastards” to his complaint about where we were parked on a pontoon.

 I may well be getting paranoid, but since moving our sailing base to Cowes 5 years ago I’ve been wondering whether the mere name sometimes prompts the sailing equivalent of the “posh boy” jibe at David Cameron’s cabinet. Continue reading “Cowes – love it or loathe it?”